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I have tried to sing while playing piano a few times and it seems impossible laugh Does anyone have any advice on how to get started on this? I was thinking simplify as much as needed, such as, single hand harmony with whole notes while singing. I have done some googling around on this and havent found much. Thought Id ask here in case anyone else has gone this path and can offer any tips or suggestions. Thanks!

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I used to sing & play a lot, although less often these days.

I suggest you approach it the way many people do when just trying to learn how to play with both hands.

So, play the LH part, and sing. Then play the RH part, and sing... The try HS and singing, but do it in very small passages (a few measures/lines at a time).

You might start with something that has the melody only in the RH and chords in the LH (IOW, RH duplicates the vocals).

The other thing might be to start with music that you are really, really familiar with. I think the first songs I did singing and playing together were Beatles songs and Christmas songs. And again, I started with easier arrangements where the RH and the vocal part were the same. Once I felt comfortable with the process, then I branched out. IIRC the first song I did after Beatles was a really nice arrangement for piano/vocals of Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper! smile

The other thing you should do is trying counting out loud while playing (no, really out loud, not just in your head) and also maybe saying things out loud, like chord names, while playing.... This is all aimed to get "instrumentation independence," in which you think of your voice and each hand as instruments, and you are trying to get each "instrument" comfortable performing a different part of the music.

What songs are you interested in?


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I'm not into singing and I don't hum like Glenn Gould but I like the idea. Probably a good way to learn the notes if you can repeat it in your head.

Once I played a version of "O Holy Night" on a keyboard at a Christmas gathering. Several people who sang in a choir joined in. I had the lyrics on the sheet in front but can only play the piano part.

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While I play classical music most of the time, I do enjoy sitting down with chord charts and playing the chords while singing every now and then. I don't have any formal training in singing but I don't care. It's great therapy and, to myself, I sound decent :-) I purchased Pianote's "500 Songs in 5 Days" program and really liked it (besides the technique/tips you get a PDF with chord charts for 500 well-known songs). In fact, Lisa (from Pianote) has a video on exactly this topic:



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I do ! I am not sure what advice I can give you since it came to me with no effort at all, just natural.

Quite the opposite actually. when I have a melodically difficult passage on the piano I sing it first and then play it. Thing is I am evidently familiar, accustomed to singing, I have sung many years in a semi pro choir. Singing comes more natural t me than playing.

So, maybe, why don't you try and get some singing technique first and then get back to try and do it together with the playing ?

Maybe is a lack of familiarity with the whole singing thing that puts you back.

Good luck.

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This was hard for me at first as well ( and I love to sing )...the feeling reminds me exactly of when I was trying to learn simple hand independence at the piano...kinda like wading through mud smile
Even now it takes some practice if the vocal part doesn't exactly line up with the beat.
What worked for me was 1: slowing down! 2. start with melody only as Shiro suggested 3. at first just hum what you want to sing or use a generic la-la or whatever...it helps a little not to worry about forming actual words.
You may have to use a couple of specific notes as guides to where you stop and start singing. Think of when you were learning trills and they were kind of mechanical at first, but when you were more comfortable they sounded "free".

Good luck and sing your heart out!

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I have a terrible voice, so that doesn’t help.

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Originally Posted by marklings
I do ! I am not sure what advice I can give you since it came to me with no effort at all, just natural.

Maybe is a lack of familiarity with the whole singing thing that puts you back

I’m the same. I can sing (not well, but in tune) if I want to while playing, and I’m an absolute klutz at playing the piano. But the singing part is natural and instinctive in a way that the piano is not, through years in church and school choirs singing multi-part harmony as a kid and young adult.

I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to learn both piano and singing from scratch at the same time (for an adult, I mean). It would be like taking the difficulty of learning piano and doubling it.

I think you’d have to have some background in singing to make a decent go of it (which the OP may well have for all we know).


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Yup, this is something my teacher recommends I do, and it is really helpful for me in the rhythm work. I often hum too. Helps as I sang in the choir in my school days. Only thing is that I need to keep the volume down as it does often override the piano if it’s a score I like 😂


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That Pianote video is really good! And she recommends a better "first step" than what I described, namely:

Play block chords with both hands while humming the vocal part. This way, both hands are doing the same thing, so you're only juggling two things, the vocal part (w/o words) and the chords.

Then you can advance from this by doing chords with lyrics, and then move on to have LH and RH playing different parts. If that's too hard, do LH part & RH part with humming before singing the actual lyrics.

And as other mentioned, if singing isn't something you regularly do, practice just singing for a while as well, so you feel comfortable with it.


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You pretty much have to have the vocal line memorized, and the piano part pretty much at that level as well, and the sheet or lyrics are just there to assist you. Whenever I sing while playing, I'm able to do it, but I never play or sing as well this way as when I can focus on one, so it's pretty intense for the brain. Try not to pick something too rhythmic in the piano to help you get started.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
You pretty much have to have the vocal line memorized, and the piano part pretty much at that level as well, and the sheet or lyrics are just there to assist you. Whenever I sing while playing, I'm able to do it, but I never play or sing as well this way as when I can focus on one, so it's pretty intense for the brain. Try not to pick something too rhythmic in the piano to help you get started.

That's good to know as I wasn't sure if it was just me thinking it seemed very very challenging and complex. It sounds like you should know both the piano and vocal part so well before even putting them together. I will pick something very simple to attempt but I'll make sure I know both parts really well instead of trying to do while relying on a sheet.

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I can hardly even count out loud when I play without getting the counts mixed up with the fingering. I can't imagine singing.


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Originally Posted by malkin
I can hardly even count out loud when I play without getting the counts mixed up with the fingering. I can't imagine singing.

I agree! I started doing some sixteenth note counting and it's just too way too many syllables to even keep track of. I always think I'm the only one that thinks these things are impossible then it's good to connect with fellow peers who feel the same or who once felt the same!

I'm going to attempt it based on the tips shared and the videos. It will probably be a hot mess but that's ok as I need to just have more fun and quite trying to be serious or thinking I can't.

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Quote
sixteenth note counting

Instead of trying to count "one - e - and - ah,"trying counting 16th notes as "1, 2, 3, 4"

/unsolicited advice


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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Quote
sixteenth note counting

Instead of trying to count "one - e - and - ah,"trying counting 16th notes as "1, 2, 3, 4"

/unsolicited advice

I have tried that, it's been a while, but for some reason I like the feeling of each number being a down beat on the click. I don't know why but I feel like saying 2 on beat 2 gives me a little extra guidance. I'll try the 1,2,3,4 for the 16th again to experiment.

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If you want to try the “four” numbering, you could do it this way! Say there’s a group of four 16th notes on beat two, count them
2,2,3,4

BTW having a very clear feeling of the down beats is very important, so it’s great to be attentive to that.


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All the advice sounds very good and the video ... well I wish I'd looked for something like this earlier as it would of helped me.

The only thing I'm not so sure about now is the part of being really familiar with the playing of a tune, before adding vocals. As a solo pianist, the things I am very familiar with have full blown arrangements. So, to add vocals now, I need to develop a new piano part and I'm afraid the original arrangement would always be tripping me up. Though, there are likely good ideas to be drawn from it.

I used to think the same thing, but now that I've done it a few times, I'd rather start with something brand new. So, the most important thing is finding something in my vocal range, that I like enough to work on. Then, try to do the best job I can with it, then move on to another and over time hopefully things will improve.

The biggest difference I see with vocals and piano accompaniment is that the piano is no longer the star. So, you really don't have to get that fancy with the piano part. Try to keep interesting sure, but the vocalist is the star now. Even so, it takes a lot of practice and not something that comes over night, But, most definitely can be developed with practice.

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Be thankful I don't sing and play. But there was a time when I'd lead the Praise in church. I'd start off the hym (best I could and robustly lol) and just hope they'd take up the slack when I dropped off after the first line.
Bless 'em! Worked every time!

TBH I often wondered how McCartney used to sing and play bass. He was a very good bassist . . . but his singing was integral.

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I'm not a beginner, but I thought I'd chime in since this is basically my job. I've been a church music director for years, and that involves playing (and I try to keep my playing interesting) and leading the singing. I memorize all the words and music now because I can't see well enough not to, but if you're a good enough player it's possible to read both simultaneously, or even to sing a part (when I accompany the choir, for instance). For someone just starting out I'd recommend practicing with only familiar songs that you have already memorized. Make sure you've practiced both the piano music and the vocal part separately and know them well. I'd start out by humming, just to get a feel for it, and add in the words later. Start out slowly and pick easy pieces. Church music is easy, for instance. The range is pretty much always going to be reasonable and it's meant to be sung by untrained congregations. I don't know if you're going for pop songs, or art song, or what, but here's a plug for my favorite. smile Church music is folk music and thus it's very accessible.

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